RARA-AVIS: Sgt Thomas P. Connors, NYPD, and Lt. Paul Glaser, NYPD

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 13 Sep 2002

Neither of these guys became well-known as writers but their series character, rookie New York cop Johnny Benton, like Frank and Joe Hardy, was there during my formative mystery-reading years.

In the late '50s and early '60s, Dodd, Mead published a series of juvenile (I guess nowadays they'd be called "young adult") novels called "Career Books," stories about particular jobs written by actual members of the profession being depicted. One of these career books was called JOHN BENTON - ROOKIE POLICEMAN, and the co-authors were Connors and Glaser.
 Aside from their respective ranks at the time the book was published, I recall nothing about them except that one of them, I think it was Glaser, mentioned enjoying Broadway plays and night clubs ("night clubbing" seems an odd thing to mention enjoying in a children's book). BENTON, which featured a foreword by legendary NYC Police Commissioner Stephen Kennedy, showed Johnny getting hired, going through the academy, and handling himself during his first few formative months patrolling a beat.

It was popular enough that Glaser was persuaded to go solo on a sequel, SQUAD ROOM DETECTIVE, in which Johnny, after a furious gun battle with an armed gangster, gets awarded with the gold shield of a detective. Assigned to his precinct's squad, he's shown the ropes by his new partners as he tries to track down the remaining members of the gang of criminals that the scalawag he shot it out with belonged to.

I mention these two, apart from the books being a fond memory, because it occurs to me that police procedurals, almost alone among hard-boiled crime fiction, is often used in juvenile fiction. Although the two Benton books are the only such novels I'm aware of that were written by cops, I can think of a half-dozen juvenile police procedurals right off hand.
 Imagine, on the other hand, a juvenile novel about a genuine hard-boiled PI (as opposed to kiddy wannabes like the Hardys or the Three Investigators), or a professional armed robber or organized crime figure
(though there might be some about "youthful offender" type gangbangers).

Maybe juvenile writers are missing a bet here. I recall feeling quite flattered that a kid's book had been written about a dangerous adult profession, rather than about a kid pretending to be part of such a profession.


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